Motezuma is an opera in three acts by Antonio Vivaldi with an Italian libretto by Girolamo Giusti. The first performance was given in the Teatro Sant'Angelo in Venice on 14 November 1733. (In earlier reference books the opera is referred to as Montezuma, but since the reappearance of the original manuscript this has been corrected to Motezuma.)
The music was supposed to be have been lost, but it was discovered in 2002 in the archive of the music library of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, an independent old choral association with a rich musical tradition. After World War II their library was "liberated" by the Red Army, and taken to the USSR. Eventually it ended up in Kiev, now in Ukraine, where it was discovered by the musicologist Steffen Voss, although the beginning of the first act and a fragment of the third missing. Musicologists started working on obtaining a performable version.
A concert version of the opera, apparently the first performance since the 18th century, was performed on 11 June 2005 in the Concert Hall De Doelen in Rotterdam conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli.
On July 18th 2005, a version of Motezuma was supposed to have been performed by the Operabarga Festival in Barga Italy, also conducted by Sardelli. It did not happen due to a copyright dispute, as noted below.
The modern world premiere was held on 21 September 2005 in Düsseldorf as part of the Altstadtherbst Kulturfestival, in a production by Uwe Schmitz-Gielsdorf, designed by Paolo Atzori, with l’Orchestra Modo Antiquo conducted again by Sardelli.
Perhaps as part of their bid to become acceptable to the European Union, Ukraine returned all the books from the Sing-Akademie to their rightful owners. The archive decided to organize their collection, apparently also restricting access, and supposedly having plans to publish their manuscripts.
The Sing-Akademie asserted that they had full copyright, including derivative rights such as performance rights, to the opera. While common sense would lead one to believe that a work presented in 1733 would not have copyright protection (and that only Vivaldi's heirs would have these rights) the judicial case was not clear.
The Rotterdam performance went ahead only after a substantial payment to the Sing-Akademie, and the Barga performance was halted by an injunction, with a potential 250,000 Euro penalty for non-compliance. The reason given was that German law offers copyright protection to entities that publish previously inaccessible works. The injunction was issued one week before the date of the performance, so a "pastiche" was performed: the Motezuma libretto recitatives were spoken, and other Vivaldi arias sung between them.
As of mid-September 2005, the injunction was lifted which allowed the Düsseldorf premiere to take place.